Proceedings began this morning, when the event’s co-organisers, Soundcloud’s Dave Haynes and Six Four Productions’s Martyn Davies, held a panel to set the scene.
Music Hack Day began 3 years ago, said Haynes, and has now become quite a phenomenon: over 3000 developers from 200 music and tech companies have participated to date. “There’s an appetite to do this all around the world,” said Haynes.
But what exactly is a hack day? It’s when developers — or hackers — have 24 hours to build a piece of hardware or software, often pulling open data via the APIs of services like Spotify, Soundcloud or Last.fm, to build something new. And always music-related, of course.
So the emphasis is on building, not talking; and on fun, not business. Yes, some people have made money out of hack days — Davies’ 2011 midem hack day hack attracted an investment that allowed him to set up his own company — but it’s first and foremost a “playground”, as Haynes put it. “There’s no commercial motive. Most hacks won’t live. Only a few survive afterwards, out of hundreds.”
Davies and Haynes then singled out some stand-out examples of hacks, like μTrumps or Ask Imogen, both made at midem hack day 2011; or the more recent Drinkify, which suggests the ideal cocktail for whatever music you’re listening to (more details here).
Then music people came up to pitch their hack ideas to the developers: they included cellist Zoe Keating, who asked for for 2 hacks: one to source tour data to the music websites she uses; and another to make all her audio files available online. Univeral and EMI representatives also made suggestions.
Then, up on the Palais’ level 5, the hacking began. Or, as hacker Syd Lawrence put it:
Let the hacking commence #midem
— Syd Lawrence (@sydlawrence) January 28, 2012
Just outside the hack room, we spoke to Martyn Davies about what it means to bring hack day back to midem; why it’s important for hackers to interact with the music industry; and what sort of hacks he expects to see this year (there might be one with 3D graphics!)
So after 48 hours of hacking — yes, midem hackers get double the time — the next stop is midem’s Visionary Monday January 30, when the hacks created here will be presented:
- During midem’s Visionary Monday January 30 (11.15, Debussy: the two best hacks)
- Then at 12.00 on the same day, in the Innovation Factory (all hacks)
- You can also join the “Meet the developers” session (2.30, The Hub), talk directly to the hackers from midem hack day to find out more about how they built their hacks; and further discuss what happens at Music Hack Days across the world.